(Credit: Clifford)


Tate curator of Windrush exhibition says UK museums must address colonial past


Currently, at the Tate, an exhibition featuring art focusing on the Windrush generation has taken centre stage, displaying works by Caribbean-British artists.

This refreshing display of art has not only showcased some fine pieces, but it has also created discussion regarding immigration and Britain’s colonial past that is often swept under the proverbial rug by various museums and galleries

David A. Bailey, who has served as the curator has discussed this issue, as reported in the Guardian, Bailey stated: “It’s trying to think about the question of the museum and its responsibilities in a 21st-century climate, particularly museums which have a very chequered history around patronage”.

With many of the artworks depicting vignettes from Britain’s colonial past, Bailey has posited that the time for discussion is ripe. “That has now resurfaced itself around the question of post-slavery and the sugar industry,” he said, “Which is referred to in some of the works in the show”.

Adding: “For me, one of the things our institutions have to do is take responsibility around those questions, and think about what is the legacy of these elements in the future”.

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This notion is one that has often entered the discussion in the arts but rarely is an exhibition or one of the institutions in question at the centre of it. This is particularly true when it comes to art in the gallery sense. Reggae and two-tone movements tackled the issue of cultural identity and appropriation in a very visceral sense in the music world, but where a wall has been required to hang something, the debate has been rather more closeted. 

Bailey hopes that the current will help bring about change in this regard. Concluding: “It is a moment for our national spaces to think about what it is they’re trying to do. [Visitors] ill now see a different sensibility around British art.”

The Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art 1950s – Now will run from December 1st to 3rd of April 2022 at the Tate Britain in London.